Sir Richard Branson has called for a 10mph cut to the speed limit to “save lives” in Ukraine and defeat Russia by slashing the country’s energy usage. The British billionaire said that speed limits on motorways should be reduced from 70mph to 60mph for the next year to “bring this war to an end”.
Sir Richard also urged the West to ramp up deliveries of military aid to Ukrainian forces to save the “breadbasket of the world”.
By driving slower, drivers would reduce fuel consumption and as a result the dependency on Russian oil.
Speaking to CNBC, Sir Richard said: “Lives will be saved by, you know, by just in the UK alone by reducing the speed limit.”
Sir Richard, the founder of Virgin Atlantic with an estimated net worth of $5bn (£3.8bn), also called on airlines to consider cutting flights to reduce fuel burn and said companies should turn down air conditioning units to save on electricity.
Italy has banned air conditioning units from being set below 25C this summer, warning that anyone who breaks the rules will risk a €3,000 (£2,493) fine.
Russia is raking in billions of dollars a day from European Union countries buying its oil and gas, limiting the impact of sanctions that are meant to cripple the country’s economy.
Experts have previously said that measures such as turning down the thermostat or driving less would help to cut Western dependence on the Kremlin, meaning Putin’s regime would earn less from energy sales and more restrictions could be imposed. This would apply in Britain too because even though the UK does not use much Russian energy, cutting consumption here would free up fuel that could then be sent to other European nations which do.
Sir Richard said: “It’s not the time for neutrality.
“We say that there’s a need for increased military aid.
“Nato governments should immediately authorize the transfer of the weapons that Ukraine has asked for.”
The Prime Minister has pledged to phase out Russian oil imports by the end of the year. The UK sources around 8pc of its total oil needs from Russia – and 18pc of its diesel. Russian gas imports represent just 4pc of Britain’s consumption.
Continental Europe is considerably more dependent on Kremlin-controlled energy, however. Russia is the world’s third-biggest energy exporter, sending five billion barrels of crude oil overseas every day – half of which historically was taken by Europe.
Germany sources up to 55pc of its gas and 34pc of its oil from Russia and has resisted Western plans to ramp up military aid to Ukraine.
Sir Richard, 71, who bases himself on his own Caribbean island, said: “It’s really important that we get rid of our dependence on Russian oil, gas and coal. And we must do that immediately. And we cannot continue to send billions of dollars to Russia to fund their war.”
“If we can reduce the West’s dependence on fuel, by, say, just 10pc, that will free up something like 3 billion barrels of fuel. And that will be plenty, to make sure that countries like Germany do not have to import any more.”
“We’re suggesting you go about it [by] encourage[ing] everybody to reduce the speed they drive their cars.
“Now, if everybody did it by 10 mph throughout the IEA countries, that would reduce sufficient amount of fuel to sort out those countries who are importing fuel from Russia, at the same time, it would have the beneficial effect of driving the price of fuel down, because everybody is paying far too much for their fuel at the moment.”